Backpacking List: Things You Need When Traveling Abroad to the US

Backpacking the United States

Essential Checklist for Traveling the United States of America

The United States of America is the most diverse country you will ever visit with regards to people, culture, geography, and climate. It is not out of the norm to travel through scorching deserts, over snow capped mountains, rolling hills, and end up at the ocean in the span of a day or two. Traveling America is best done by renting (or buying) a car and road tripping from coast to coast. If you do this, then packing an extra bag or luggage will not be a problem since you have a place to store it. If you don’t plan on road tripping and instead flying, then you will need to decide if you want to check your bags or carry them on.

Best Travel backpacks for travelling Amrica

If sightseeing is your goal than a carry on bag similar to what you would pack for Europe would be fine. Any other activity that requires extra gear (rock climbing, surfing, scuba diving, etc.) will require you to check your bag at the airport.Since September 11, 2001 the USA has been a bit paranoid about airport security and the TSA tend to randomly check bags of tourists, travelers, and sometimes their own people. This extra layer of security is a real drag and retrieving a checked bag can be time consuming. Bags also tend to go missing in the USA constantly, not because they are stolen, just because their are so many outbound and inbound flights they get sent to the wrong place. This is the nightmare scenario of many travelers, so we suggest a carry on.

Going to America on Holiday: What Clothes to Take

Packing List for Traveling America

Each part of the country offers varying climates depending on the time of year. Don’t let that worry you though, in summer t-shirts and shorts is fine pretty much everywhere. Winter and fall can be harsher on the East Coast and Pacific Northwest, while the West Coast (which is the best coast) can get cold in the North but stay relatively mild and warm in the South. Out of all the states to visit, we highly recommend California! Not just because we live here, but because it has the best people, food, and a laid back culture. You can also snowboard and surf in the same day.

What to wear in America

  • Shirts/blouses. You will need shirts or blouses that can be layered or worn independently. Pack five t-shirts for summer and one long sleeve. For winter pack 4 short sleeve and three long sleeve shirts. Both should be of high quality that look good if worn by themselves. Cotton and polyester blends are fine but synthetic fabrics that are easy to wash and dry over night are the best.
  • Pants. If you’re wondering what to pack for the United States, consider bringing two pair of nice looking pants. They should be stylish and functional. Jeans are the most popular pant here.
  • Shorts and Skirts. We are very anti-shorts for most countries, but in the USA shorts are worn in winter and summer. Americans like to stay comfortable so feel free to pack one or two pair of shorts. Skirts are also popular.
  • Underwear. Breathable underwear will be more comfortable for the outdoors and keep you dry.
  • Shoes. A pair of walking shoes will do you just fine in the US. If you want to hit hot spots in New York or LA bring a pair of dress shoes. Flip flops are also recommended for the beach.
  • Sweater. Try to find two lightweight sweaters or fleeces that are stylish, dark in color, and can be easily layered. Nothing too bulky.
  • Socks. Wool blended socks will hold up to all the different climates the United States offers.
  • Jackets. Denim or leather and a windbreaker. If you head to snow consider a collapsible winter coat.
  • Scarf. We are hip to scarves in the US so bring your favorite.
  • Swimsuit. Most hotels and hostels have pools, and we have a ton of lakes, rivers, streams, and two oceans. Bring one or two.
  • Hats and Beanies. Make sure to bring a good hat that can be crushed and put in a backpack. The USA has a ton of different styles of hats, so pick one up as a souvenir.
  • Going Out Clothes. Guys bring a few buttons ups and nice pants. For girls pretty much anything you think is cute goes, sky’s the limit!

Packing for the USA: Toiletries and Necessities

packing list holiday abroad

For the most part Americans are clean with the exception of the South (just kidding). Serious though we have shampoos and soaps for everything so pack a good toiletry kit.

  • Toiletries kit. Most of our cities stink but you don’t have too! Pack a good kit or build one while you’re here with our guide.
  • Medicine and vitamins. Make sure to pack meds and ensure you let restaurants know about food allergies.
  • First-aid kit. Bring a first aid kit, because it’s best to avoid our hospitals.
  • Small towel/washcloth. Bring a big travel towel and cloth. Also pick up a beach towel in California.
  • Hairdryer, Curling Iron, Straightener(Optional)
  • Cologne/perfume. We actually sell everything here so try something new!
  • Condoms. American’s have a weird attraction to foreign accents so be prepared.
  • Tampons/Feminine Hygiene. These are widely available in the States.
  • Wet Wipes/Moist Towelettes. Great for long flights and can be bought anywhere.

Additional Things Needed for Holiday in America

Roadtrip checklist USA america

These extra accessories will make your life a lot easier in the USA.

  • Small day pack. Carry your touring equipment with these small collapsible packs.
  • Stuff Sacks. Keep your dirty clothes away from your clean with these.
  • Water bottle and Water Purifying. The water is for the most part ok in the USA (although maybe not). We don’t like plastic water bottles in California so pick up a water bottle.
  • Headlamp. They just make traveling easier all around.
  • Inflatable neck pillow and earplugs. Stay comfortable on planes and trains.
  • Insect repellent. We have some big bugs in the south so be prepared!
  • Tiny locks. protect your stuff with locks because people love to steal in big cities.
  • Sewing kit. So you can fix the knife cut in your shirt when visiting New York (just kidding, mostly).
  • A good book. Specifically one by a famous author about the country you are visiting. There’s a lot of great American novelists in every genre, pick one you think sounds interesting.
  • Seal-able plastic bags.
  • Bandanna. These are diverse travel items but stay away from red and blue.
  • Glasses/contacts/sunglasses.

Extra Items to Bring when Traveling Around The USA

important things to pack when travelling the USA

It’s best to travel to the United States with minimal gear and only what you need. The reason for this is that you will likely be shopping and can pick up whatever you need while you’re here for cheap. Electronics are everywhere here so don’t be afraid to bring them along. Just don’t take pictures with your tablet in central park because it will get snatched.

Tips on How to Carry Documents and Money in the United States

checklist for traveling abroad to the United States

I live in the USA in one of the major cities and I have never worried about pick pockets. However as a tourist you may get sized up by nefarious people and they may try and take your stuff. The likelyhood of this happening is pretty slim but it’s best to carry a diversion wallet in your back pocket with a few dollars if someone does rob you. Keep your remaining cash and cards hidden away in a money belt.

  • Money belt. This is where you should be storing all your money while you travel
  • Money. Generally bring a backup debt and credit card in the unlikely event yours go missing.
  • Documents. I wish I didn’t have to say this, but America is going through a bad time when it comes to foreign visitors. Make sure to carry your passport (and copies of your passport) as well as a copy of your itinerary home. This should keep immigration officials off your case hopefully. 
  • Travel Insurance. World Nomads is who we use for travel insurance and they’re great.
  • Visas. Depending on your country, you may need to carry some kind of Visa. Make sure it’s on you at all time.
  • Guidebooks and maps

Handy Things to Travel With: Electronics

how to travel the us

Electronics are fine to take with you to the USA, but wifi hot spots aren’t really a thing outside of coffee shops, McDonalds, or big cities. 

  • Smartphone/mobile phone. Pick up an international sim card to use your phone in the USA.
  • Digital camera. (Optional) There’s a lot of beauty and weirdness in the US, so bring a good camera to capture all of it.
  • Tablet. (Optional) These are great for travel and easily fit in your pack.
  • Laptop. (Optional) A bit more cumbersome but if you feel like you can’t travel without it then bring it. Everyone walks around with laptops.
  • Headphones/earbuds. If you have a hard time sleeping in noisy cities you’ll definitely want some earbuds.
  • Chargers. and batteries.
  • Plug adapter(s). We use type A and B here.

USA Packing List Summarybefore travelling to usa

The United States of America is an extremely diverse country. Despite what people say, most people are friendly. Pack like you would for Europe and you will have a great time in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

So as of 2017 the USA is still a great place to visit. Sure, we have some weird political stuff going and our current President is a bit of a pistol, but it’s still a beautiful place. If you are worried about immigration police, racism, or anything like that then stick to the West Coast of the Country. California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada (VEGAS), and Colorado are all awesome places and we are progressive and protect peoples rights. Plus we’re the most fun.  

The West Coast is the Best Coast!